Doing the Public Good: On civil discourse and participatory media

doing the public good

This week’s got three bits of news relating to civil discourse via participatory media:
1. Yawning Bread on the TODAY newspaper (4-5th Aug 2007)
2. Global Voices seeks to hire Video Editor
3. “Copyright & Fair Use in Participatory Media”

1. Yawning Bread on the TODAY newspaper (4-5th August 2007)

Alex Au’s profile was recently in the weekend edition of TODAY (Singapore’s free newspaper). Better known as Yawning Bread (see wikipedia entry), Alex has been a well-recognized gay rights activist and political blogger in Singapore.

The media socialists (a consortium of social media practitioners I’m involved with) had a pretty interesting discussion via our mailing list about this, namely on how unusually well written the newspaper article was, given the kind of political climate Singapore had. In conversation with Alex, we were reminded of how such new technology (e.g. blogs) generally increases the democratization of voices. However, the ‘power’ of blogs may be overrated, where there is a tendency for one to imagine that you are speaking to many people, which might not be the case. This can lull individuals into substituting online participation for actual activism.

Amongst ourselves, we debated as to what constituted real activism. Can armchair activism lead to real societal change? Perhaps, but we tend to agree that coupling online activism with actual ground work would certainly have a stronger impact (remember Chek Jawa?)

You can see the full page article as a JPEG image or PDF (Hat tip to Kenneth)

2. Global Voices (GV) is seeking to hire a Video Editor

Global Voices Online is a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a research think-tank focused on the Internet’s impact on society. They seek to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online – shining light on places and people other media often ignore. They do this by developing tools, institutions and relationships that will help all voices, everywhere, to be heard.

Now they need a Video Editor who would be responsible for keeping track of online citizen-produced video from throughout the world and selecting clips to be featured and contextualized in articles on the GV web site 2-3 times per week. The Video Editor will work closely with the rest of the Global Voices editorial staff (managing, regional and language editors), and will also be expected to attend regular online editorial meetings.

As Global Voices is a virtual organization, the Video Editor will not be expected to relocate. Regular access to high-speed internet connectivity will, however, be a key factor in being able to carry out this job. Ideally, s/he will have the ability to read and write well in at least one language other than English and have a working knowledge of other languages. Preference will be given to candidates from outside the United States and Western Europe. The application deadline is Friday August 24, 2007.

Interested? Here are the details…

3. “Copyright & Fair Use in Participatory Media”

There’s an interesting initiative in the form of the “Copyright and Fair Use in Participatory Media” project from American University SOC’s Center for Social Media (CSM) and Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP).

This project is being undertaken to promote standards for the use of copyrighted materials in user-generated media that is broadcast over the internet, and builds on the two organizations’ success in helping to establish “best practices” for fair use by documentary filmmakers.

Before I left Singapore, there were talks about formally recognizing Creative Commons in our country, where the CC had no jurisdiction. While this project deals with copyrighted content, there seems to be an overall demand for awareness of rights over intellectual property globally, given the prevalence of online user-generated content from our creative culture, as seen sites like Youtube. Account Director Joyce of Trylon SMR sent me two relevant articles from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that show just how prevalent this issue is.